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‘F*ck the Army’: When Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland toured their anti-Vietnam War show, 1972

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Bob Hope was late. Ten minutes late. But it was a ten minutes that probably saved his life. Hope was en route to entertain US troops stationed in Vietnam in December 1964. These troops were officially documented by the White House as being there in an “advisory capacity,” which gave Hope the opening for his show:

Hello, advisors! I asked Secretary McNamara if we could come and he said, ‘Why not, we’ve tried everything else!’ No, really, we’re thrilled to be here in Sniper Valley.

Hope’s flight had been rescheduled from landing at Saigon to the US air base at Bien Hoa. Saigon was considered too dangerous. The Viet Cong might just take a pot shot at the comedian. In fact, it turned to be something far more deadly.

After the show, Hope was to head off by car to the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon, but as his cue cards, on which his jokes were written, had become mixed up, his assistant, Barney McNulty was tasked with sorting them out. This delayed Hope and his entourage, which included Jill St. John and singer, former Miss Oklahoma and well-known homophobe Anita Bryant, by ten minutes. As they were driving to their destination, a car bomb exploded outside the Brinks Hotel just about a block from the Caravelle. If he’d been on time, Hope and his crew would have been toast. Instead, they got a ringside seat of the blast and its devastation which killed two, injured 60, and destroyed the Brinks Hotel.

Hope toured US military bases in Vietnam from 1964-1972. His intention was to boost the soldiers’ moral, and let them know the folks back home were thinking about them. His intentions may have been honorable but to many back home, Hope came to represent the folly of America’s involvement in Vietnam. It led to the saying “Where there’s Hope there’s death.”
 
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In response to Hope’s “hawkish” pro-war tours of Vietnam, Jane Fonda started touring army bases in 1970 giving voice to the many dissenting soldiers and veterans who were against the war. She then teamed up with Donald Sutherland in 1971 to perform with a troupe of entertainers under the name F.T.A. which was sometimes known as the “Free Theater Associates” or more (in)famously as “Fuck the Army.” The idea for the tour came from dissident Howard Levy who wanted “to stage an anti-war response to the touring shows of Bob Hope, who thought the war was just peachy.”

These F.T.A. shows originally came out of the G.I. coffeehouse movement—“the loose network of coffeehouses that had sprung up around U.S. military bases as a way for GIs to plug into the movement in the U.S. against the Vietnam War.” The group performed satirical sketches and songs opposing the war. Though they faced objections from some senior military personnel, F.T.A. managed to perform at military bases in Fort Bragg, Okinawa, the Philippines, Japan, and all along the Pacific Rim. Fonda and Sutherland produced a movie documenting these shows which was released in 1972 but was “mysteriously” pulled from screenings not long after its release due to fierce criticism from politicians, the media, and (surprise, surprise) top army brass.

Directed by Francine Parker, who was one of the first female members of the Directors Guild of America, F.T.A. documented Fonda, Sutherland, folk singer Len Chandler, singers Holly Near and Rita Martinson, writer/actor Michael Alaimo, and comedian Paul Mooney performing a variety of skits and songs including Sutherland as a sports announcer describing an attack on a Vietnamese village as if it were a ballgame and Fonda as Pat Nixon. This was all interspersed with interviews from many of the men and women involved in the war—including African-American GIs describing the racism they faced in the field.
 
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The film is a bit rough around the edges but is an important testament to the many soldiers (and performers) who opposed the war in Vietnam. The film ends with Sutherland reading from Dalton Trumbo’s 1938 novel Johnny Got His Gun:

Remember this well you people who plan for war. Remember this you patriots, you fierce ones, you spawners of hate, you inventors of slogans. Remember this as you have never remembered anything else in your lives. We are men of peace, we are men who work and we want no quarrel. But if you destroy our peace, if you take away our work, if you try to range us one against the other, we will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so. We will use the guns you force upon us, we will use them to defend our very lives, and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it.

 
Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.12.2019
08:33 am
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The many hairstyles of Donald Sutherland
01.27.2017
10:05 am
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Donald Sutherland is a damn fine actor—one of the greatest. He’s also got a damn fine head of hair.

Sutherland and his hair are truly exceptional—above Gielgud, Olivier, Bruce Willis and all those more or less “good” but follicly challenged actors.

You know, it’s hard to think of any other actor who makes his hair work as hard as Sutherland does in every single performance.

Just think back to his neat blonde-haired vampire-killer in Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors or hippie Sgt. Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes and his scary perm in Invasion of the Body Snatchers or that bad Santa look he sported in Hunger Games—Donald Sutherland is a man and a hairstyle with no equal. 

Now I’ve been a big fan of Mr. Sutherland since way, way back whenever. But I truly became an admirer of Sutherland and his hair after I watched him at an awards ceremony on TV when I was but a short, back and sides sometime in the 1970s. Sutherland was announcing an award for something or other and when he made his way up to the stage he revealed he was favoring one of the weirdest hairstyles ever. From the back it looked like Sutherland had one of his usual long-haired hippie coiffures. But from the front, his head was shaved back to the bone and almost halfway up his scalp thus creating a bizarre and utterly huge forehead. Sutherland responded to the audience’s shocked gasps by explaining he was about to appear in Fellini’s Casanova and added:

When Fellini says get a haircut, you get a haircut.

Over the years Sutherland has certainly had quite a few weird and wonderful haircuts—each in its own way helping the great and talented actor deliver an unforgettable star performances and many a film-stealing turn in supporting roles. Now in his eighties, I can think of no other actors (save for maybe Eraserhead‘s Jack Nance) whose hair has given as powerful or as iconic a contribution to movie history. If you don’t believe me, well, just take a look at some of these….

Now, I know, I know some of you will say but what about this movie or what about that film…but the truth is Donald Sutherland has given so many great performances, made so many superb films, that there are too many to choose from. So, this is not by any means a complete list but more a tribute to the man and his hair.
 
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It begins likes this: Sutherland in ‘Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors’ (1965) looking like the kind of headshot you might find a stylish barber’s window.
 
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More hairstyles of Donald Sutherland, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.27.2017
10:05 am
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Donald Sutherland & Elliott Gould: Dressed to a tee

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This week, I’ve been wandering around DM Towers dressed like this. While it’s been fun to whack about with a 9-iron, I doubt I looked as cool (or as cheesy) as these two guys: Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H.

M*A*S*H was the first ‘X’ certificate film I sneaked into, when I was about 14. It was on a re-release with the pornographically titled The Last Hard Men, which was (disappointingly) a western starring Charlton Heston, James Coburn and Barbara Hershey. An interesting double bill that nearly explains what was good and bad about the seventies
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Donald Sutherland gives a brief history of his career: Rare interview form 1979


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.09.2013
07:32 pm
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Donald Sutherland gives a brief history of his career: Rare interview from 1979

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Donald Sutherland’s big break came in Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen, when co-star Clint Walker refused to play a scene—as Sutherland explained to the Daily Telegraph:

‘...Clint Walker sticks up his hand and says, ‘Mr Aldrich, as a representative of the Native American people, I don’t think it’s appropriate to do this stupid scene where I have to pretend to be a general.’ Aldrich turns and points to me and says, ‘You — with the big ears. You do it’....It changed my life.’

“Big Ears” was born Donald McNichol Sutherland in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, in July 1935. He moved to England in the late 1950s, where he briefly studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, leaving after 9 months to start his professional career as an actor. Sutherland was soon acting in various BBC plays, and guest starring in episodes of such cult TV series as The Saint and The Avengers. Sutherland also co-starred with Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Michael Gough in the classic Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, where he played a newly-wed doctor who suspects his wife is a vampire. After a stint in repertory theater, including 2 disastrous productions, Sutherland’s career seemed stalled. The Dirty Dozen changed that.

During the 1970s, Sutherland made some of the most iconic and seminal films of the decade, including M*A*S*H (a film he originally hated), Kelly’s Heroes (which nearly cost him his life), Klute, Little Murders (a cameo), the unforgettable Don’t Look Now, The Day of the Locust (as the original Homer Simpson), 1900, Casanova, The Eagle Has Landed and National Lampoon’s Animal House.

When asked on the set of Bear Island, in 1979, if he considered himself a star, Sutherland replied that Peter O’Toole is a star, as he has that certain something, while he just makes a lot of movies. Personally, I’d beg to differ. Sutherland gives a brief history of his career, discussing the highlights M*A*S*H, working with Fellini on Casanova and the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Some man, some talent, some head of hair.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous MInds

Donald Sutherland’s hairstyles throughout the years


Donald Sutherland: His Films and Hairstyles


 
With thanks to NellyM
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.06.2013
07:52 pm
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‘I’ve never compromised. But then I’ve always been lucky’: Federico Fellini talks about ‘Casanova’
12.28.2012
07:59 pm
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Federico Fellini had been working on his 12th feature film Casanova. It had been a difficult experience. Filming had taken over a year to complete, and Fellini had spent in excess of $10m, using up 3 producers. He claimed he hated his leading star, Donald Sutherland. There had been union disputes, and the negative had been “kidnapped” and returned. Then the Vatican declared one of Fellini’s previous films “obscene”. But the great master was unfazed by all of this.

‘I’m sorry if I disappoint you by not describing the tears in my eyes, my role as the victim, the artist forced to sacrifice his own integrity and purity,’ Fellini explained in an interview with the BBC in 1976.

‘I’ve never compromised. But then I’ve always been lucky.

‘On the occasions that I could be reproached for compromising, was directly attributable to my own laziness, because I was in love, or I wanted to finish the film. Or, simply because I was fed-up by it.

‘I don’t think absolute liberty is necessarily a good thing for people creatively. As far as I, or people like me are concerned.

‘Being Italian, I have a particular type of psychology: I am an artist who is conditioned to the idea of delivering his work to All.

‘The Popes in the 14th and the 15th century, or the great Lords of days gone by, they always used to commission painters or writers to create a madrigal or a crucifixion for them. It’s this necessity of an obligation - a contract - it’s an authority that forces you to work.’

For Casanova that authority was the American film company. Fellini may have had control over the designs, the sets, the costumes, the cast, the script, and the direction, but ultimately Fellini was answerable to his producers. This was partly why he had chosen to work with Donald Sutherland.

‘Well, in Casanova,’ said Fellini, ‘There was a precise plan for a certain type of character. Because the film is an American film - made by an Italian crew for a major American company. My contractual position is that the producer made me make the film in English.’

Fellini made Sutherland have his head partially shaved, his eyebrows removed and his teeth “cut” by 2mm. A false nose, chin and eyebrows were then added. Sutherland had to rethink how best to interpret Casanova’s experience in terms of 18th century expression.

Fellini wanted authenticity, and he knew his film would cause outrage from the prudes and hypocrites of his homeland, who had already burnt copies of The Last Tango in Paris on the streets of Rome.

‘You’ve got a real moralistic tyranny in Italy,’ Fellini said. ‘It is fast coming to the point where people are being told how to make love, how to dress, how to shave, how to look at a woman. I feel completely bewildered and confused. Clearly what’s going on in our country is a real mess. I cannot honestly see how we are going to extricate ourselves.

‘The Italians are like confused children. They’ve had a thousand years of Catholic up-bringing which has left us uncertain in our context of life. We are incapable, apparently, of making personal judgments because we have always asked other people. We ask our fathers, the teacher, police, the ministry, priests, the Pope. We have always asked others to give their opinion for us, without ever having to judge for ourselves individually.’
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Pier Paolo Pasolini: A rare interview on the set of ‘Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom’


 
With thanks to NellyM
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.28.2012
07:59 pm
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Donald Sutherland’s hairstyles throughout the years
06.28.2011
01:09 pm
Topics:
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Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Donald Sutherland: His films and hairstyles

Posted by Tara McGinley
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06.28.2011
01:09 pm
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Donald Sutherland: His films and hairstyles
03.07.2011
06:09 pm
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Donald Sutherland is one of those rare actors who is not only wonderfully talented, but is gifted with a damn fine head of hair. It’s hard to think of any other actor who has made his follicles work so hard in every performance. I first became aware of this phenomenon, when in the mid-1970s Mr Sutherland opened the envelope at, I think it was, a BAFTA Award ceremony in London, where the tall, elegant Canadian, walked up to the podium and revealed a shaved hairline at odds with his long flowing locks. Sutherland was about to appear in the film Casanova, and remarked to audience’s gasps:

“When Fellini says get a haircut, you get a haircut.”

 
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Though Sutherland started as a clean-cut co-star of Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (alongside Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee), and had appearances in The Saint and The Avengers (and even the voice of the computer in The Billion Dollar Brain), there was always this sense he was a geeky straight in a tight suit desperate to try some acid and, maybe if he liked it, wear beads and grow his hair long. Which is kind of what i thought when I saw him as Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H and of course, most memorably as Sgt. Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes.
 
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More from Donald Sutherland’s hair after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.07.2011
06:09 pm
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Nicolas Roeg “shatters reality into a thousand pieces”—and turns 81!

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Since we at Dangerous Minds have previously found ourselves marveling at his film Performance, it only makes sense to salute the wonderful English filmmaker Nicolas Roeg on this, his 81st birthday.

Check out Steve Rose’s great interview in the Guardian with the oft-aloof and prickly director (from which I paraphrase this post’s title), and for heaven’s sake check out the man’s films. He’s currently working on a screen adaptation of Martin Amis’s book Night Train.

Here’s a cool overview, with five themes spotlighted, by the excellent film video-essayist Hugo Redrose.
 

Posted by Ron Nachmann
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08.15.2010
11:28 pm
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